An Open Letter to my Washington State Legislators

McCleary Compliance for Mental Healthcare: A Common-sense Intervention for Gun Violence

I’m writing in the wake of yet another mass shooting in the Pacific Northwest. I’m proud of the recent steps we’ve taken in Washington to minimize access to guns: the passage of I-594 to close background check loopholes and the unanimous passage of HB 1840 to restrict firearm purchases by people with restraining orders against them. I was heartened that the father who provided the guns in the Marysville shooting was convicted on unlawful possession charges. These are all good, common-sense steps that any state can take to reduce the proliferation of firearms and deter would-be accessories to mass shootings from casually providing weapons to terrorize our schools.

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The Issue that Built my Soapbox

This originally appeared as a diatribe I posted on my Facebook page in the wake of the UCC shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. Having worked in higher education in Oregon prior to moving to Seattle, the news out of UCC was personally very poignant. I realized that one of the things that kept dogging me, impelling me to speak up during the teachers strike was this issue that teachers are increasingly on the front lines of mass shootings. 

I got a little soap-box-y earlier this month during the Seattle teachers’s strike. Here’s why.

The day of the Newtown shootings, my oldest was a kindergartener. And there has not been a damn day since then when I’ve had to drop off a kid at school or daycare without the thought that THIS teacher, this underpaid person, cares enough. Cares enough to do untold thousands of things to ensure that my child develops, grows, and reaches her potential. But also cares enough that I’ve never had a doubt that any one of them would have done everything he or she could to put him or herself between my child and a mass shooter. 

I just want you to think on that for a second. That person who cannot afford median rent in Seattle on teacher’s pay. That person who gets the state medicaid program sign up information in their hiring packet because if they are supporting a family they’d qualify?

That person. We’ve set up a society so that THAT person has to be ready to respond to some nutbar armed to the teeth hell-bent on taking a score of six year olds with him to the afterlife?

It’s distracting, frankly. I’m trying to sit with the idea that I need to learn the new math curriculum and figure out how to help with writing homework without going out of my gourd and all I can think about is that we’re paying you peanuts to someday have to shove a clutch of little kids into a broom closet and fend off an active shooter with a bunch of school supplies that parents provided?

Aw hell to the no.

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